Every four years or so, many organizations discover it is time to replace the office print, copy or fax equipment due to wear and tear or lease termination. For many, the best way to manage this need is to publish a Request for Proposal (RFP) and have Managed Print Service providers compete to deliver the best possible proposal for new office hardware.
Many government agencies are required by law to publish an RFP for all contracts to be awarded. Other companies have discovered that putting a contract out to bid can return big savings, as vendors compete to offer the most attractive offer. In fact, many have learned that if they change from a simple replacement strategy to a managed print strategy they can reduce the total cost of print about 10 to 30%.
The upside to an RFP is that you can have dozens of companies competing for your business. The downside is that the responses to your RFP can be vague or confusing, making it hard to know if you are getting the best deal. Simply putting a contract out for bid does not guarantee you will get the response your organization will need. When publishing an RFP for print services, what should you ask? What is important in MPS? On what part of the RFP should you spend your time and effort? Here are some important lessons we have learned over the years.
WHAT IS IT GOING TO COST?
We get it. No one likes to talk about money. However, when choosing how to pay for your printer fleet, the way you are charged for service is a big deal. The most common are the cost per impression (CPI) or cost per click (CPC) models, which are based on the printing volume you expect to have. With cost per impression, users pay for a base number of impressions, and with CPP, charges apply for each page that is printed and the print vendor installs the equipment, provides repairs, manages supplies and handles maintenance. A cost per impression model charges a set price for a base number of impressions, but can deliver costs savings depending on the volume of prints your organization produces.
You should also consider whether it is in your interest to lease, own or rent equipment. Many businesses own their printers, but they find they have no flexibility to upgrade their equipment until the device is fully paid for. And once they have spent thousands of dollars to purchase a copier, many businesses are reluctant to let it go.
A lease agreement makes it possible to renegotiate your contract or adapt to new technology quickly. Lease terms typically span between three and five years. This finite time-period means you will likely upgrade your copier equipment at the end of your contact term. Before putting your printer RFP out for bid, we encourage customers to consider the volume of printing their staff sees in any given year. Ask prospective bidders to offer multiple contracts based on different pricing models. You can see if one makes the most sense based on your actual usage.
SHOULD IT BE TONER INCLUSIVE?
Keeping track of printers and supplies can take a lot of people power that could otherwise be used to focus on the core business. An MPS provider can monitor toner levels, handle the purchasing and replacement when it is time. Printers, copiers, and related devices can also be managed remotely to ensure they are working properly and repaired in a timely manner. Consider whether toner and supply costs are costing your business money and whether to ask for an MPS that delivers supplies at a set rate. A Just-in-Time service makes it possible to eliminate supply storage space in your office.
CAN THEY MAKE IT SECURE?
Document security is especially important in fields such as healthcare, where strict privacy laws restrict the dissemination of patient information. A good managed print system will offer software that keeps important documents secure. This includes the capability to wipe documents out of printer memory when necessary.
Ask bidders if they provide software updates and security services. Do they have remote monitoring to ensure software and security updates are in place? You should also include language that ensures the bidders will remove hard drives from printers and multifunction devices at the end of the term and destroys any information that might be left on them. A vendor should also be able to provide a certificate of destruction, certifying that any information stored on your printers has been wiped and/or destroyed.
Ask your vendor what it will cost to implement security and swipe-to-release features which will make your fleet more efficient and secure. Adding proximity card readers or security codes might cost more at start-up, but over the long run can cut down waste considerably and make it much more difficult for confidential information to be taken off a printer without authorization.
CAN THEY DO BETTER?
An RFP should be just the beginning of a long-term relationship with your managed print provider. Many small vendors install equipment and only come back when called for maintenance. We believe that an MPS services plan should begin with an assessment that:
- Identifies all office equipment, such as copiers, printers, and scanners
- Classifies the locations of where all office equipment is located
- Learns the volume and type of work generated or produced by the business
- Detects the current software used
- Evaluates the labor, maintenance, supplies, and costs of all in-house printing operations
After that initial assessment, an MPS provider should promise continual monitoring and maintenance. Ask the vendor if they can promise to meet regularly to deliver updates, assessments and plans for ongoing improvements to your fleet. Also, ask what software they will use for monitoring and reporting. The software used to manage your hardware should be able to track usage and deliver detailed reports that let you maximize the use of your print machines. Can your provider offer accurate billing that can be broken down by individual departments or even users?
Pricing, security, supplies and reporting are a few of the most important considerations when looking at upgrading your printer fleet. Whether you are going to RFP or are just considering a new printer purchase, talk to us today if you have any questions about any type of printer, MFP or managed print service.